“It’s a Family Tradition”

The first thing I think of is Hank Williams Jr. and his famous song when I hear that phrase. Riding in the truck with my son Brennan, listening to music on his playlist “Family Tradition” came on and he was quite impressed I knew all the words. It was ironic that my kids and I were actually on our way to the hill country of Texas to go hunting. My kids are the outdoors kind through and through, probably because it has been a requirement since birth. They both started fishing at the tender age of 2 and have become quite accomplished, my 14 year old daughter usually out fishes me every time we go.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving we arrived at the Ranch we had been hunting the last 3 days “Rivers Oak Ranch” for our final try at harvesting a buck for my daughter. My son Brennan had harvested a huge 10 point Mule Deer the season before so we were all working to get my daughter Hudson her first Buck this season. Under the cloak of morning darkness we tried to be as quiet as we could getting into the stand and preparing for our final hunt of the season.

As morning started to roll around I began to get nervous, we have not heard or seen anything. Hudson looks to the left and sees 2 deer starting to come out of the heavy cactus and mesquite, one Doe and a 4 point Buck. She ranges them in at about 120 yards and has a perfect broadside shot, I brace myself. She turned to me and slowly lowers the rifle and whispers she is not sure this is the Buck she wants to harvest. Hudson I said, why not, the morning is getting late and the prime time may pass us very soon. She said she felt she wanted that Buck to grow and she may look for him next season, he wasn’t “Mr. Right”. I can’t argue with that so we just watched them eat and walk around hoping our prize would show up but knowing he may not.

Right as the sun started to rise I saw a large shadow emerging from the left about 140 yards down the shooting lane. I reached over and tapped my daughter and whispered to her to raise the rifle and scope the deer. You should have seen the look on her face, I knew this was our guy, “Mr. Right” had finally made an appearance. Now keep in mind Hudson is shooting a rifle she has never shot, and getting ready to make a 140 yard attempt on an 8 point Buck, let the praying begin. She calmly prepares to shoot and I am holding my breath, Bhammm the shot rings out and she whispers “I think I got it”. The second my son hears the shot he texts “do not get out of the stand.” Of course my daughter and I can hardly stand sitting there for the next 45 minutes, thinking she made the shot, but not being sure.

Finally the Ranch owner Sam shows up on his 4-wheeler and we can’t get out of the stand fast enough to tell him everything. We walk up the shooting lane to start looking for blood signs, again I am holding my breath praying she made the shot. Immediately we see a great blood trail. Hudson’s Buck had made it about 50 yards and laid down in the center of hundreds of cactus. That was one of the most exciting and proudest moments I have had to share with my daughter so far. She and I had harvested her first Buck together in a moment she will always remember.

We loaded up the Buck and raced back to camp on “Cloud 9” we couldn’t wait to show the boys. Of course they were happy but feeling the sting of the girls having a better day than the boys. They quickly got over the sting when they informed Hudson she had to bite the Liver and smear the blood of her first Buck on her face. Not wanting to lose face in front of a bunch of boys, Hudson quickly rose to the challenge.

There are many reasons why we should teach our children the joy of hunting. In today’s world there are so many distractions and life’s moments go by at break neck speed. You may think hiking through the woods at 4 a.m. in the dark to then sit for hours on end freezing is not a good memory for your kids, but I assure you it is. Traditions are handed down from generation to generation and I am blessed to teach my kids the values and hunting traditions I was taught growing up by my parents, mainly my mother-Jan.